Almond Snake (M’hencha)


Ever since I saw a picture of this dessert/pastry in my cookbook The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden, I wanted so badly to make it.  But I always forget to buy phyllo pastry in the grocery store.(I guess subconsciously I really didn’t want to make it that badly!! LOL).  Then after making the Daring Bakers’ challenge for this month which is this fantastic apple strudel, I realized the strudel dough is not really any different from phyllo pastry. The ingredients were the same: flour, water and vinegar.  Well, I made another batch of the strudel dough and used it to make this Moroccan pastry M’hencha (meaning ‘snake’) which is a long coil of phyllo filled with ground almond paste. I cut my dough too narrow so I ended up with thin coil.  Next time, I will try this with phyllo pastry to compare.



  • 2 cups ground almonds
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon powder
  • approx 2 tbs orange blossom water (or enough to make a paste)


  • 1/2 strudel dough recipe or 1/2 pound phyllo pastry
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • egg wash for glazing (beat 1 egg yolk with 1 tbs water)


  1. Mix all the filling ingredients and work into a paste with your hands.
  2. Roll out strudel dough thinly and cut into 3 inch wide strips (whatever length you can handle).
  3. Brush one strip with melted butter. Take lumps of the almond paste and roll into fingers about 3/4 inch thick.
  4. Place end to end in a line along the long edge of the dough strip.  Roll the dough sheet over the filling, tucking the ends in to stop the filling from oozing out.
  5. Lift the roll carefully with both hands and place in the middle of baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Very gently curve the roll like a coil without tearing the dough. Repeat with the rest of the strips.
  6. Brush the top of pastry with egg wash and sprinkle with some ground almonds. Bake in preheated 350F oven for 30 – 40 minutes  until crisp and lightly browned.
  7. Serve at room temperature. Sprinkle with cinnamon and powdered sugar if desired.  Cut the pastry like a cake which will give you a piece with varying sizes.
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» Sarah (Coffee Beans and Curry Leaves) said: { May 28, 2009 - 10:05 }

I definitely have the same cookbook and have been eyeing it with the same propensity! I love the idea to make it with the strudel dough – I too have failed to purchase any filo dough in my last few grocery trips. Making your own dough would certainly shave a few dollars of this recipe compared to store bought filo dough. Thanks for the recipe & idea!

» virtual chef said: { May 29, 2009 - 09:05 }

wow! please let me know when you do make it. i would love to know how it went for you!

» Elyse said: { May 29, 2009 - 01:05 }

Wow, this snake is brilliant! I mean, talk about a looker of a dessert. It’s absolutely gorgeous, and I love that you used your newfound strudel dough-making skills to make this. It looks delicious!

» sara said: { May 29, 2009 - 07:05 }

Oooooh, this looks so good! I love the photo–totally gorgeous! YUM. :)

» Wolf said: { May 30, 2009 - 11:05 }

That is really cool looking! I’m going to have to try making one some time.

» Navita said: { Jun 11, 2009 - 07:06 }

Hey love the recipe…intoxicating…like a snakes’ charm ..;p

thanks for sharing the recipe.

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